Whether you want to relive the flavors of your childhood, or want to create some new traditions (Linzer cookies should be in everyone’s life, no?), here are some bakers (and an ice cream maker!) around town who all make special holiday treats. Many of these items are perfect to bring to your party hosts or workmates; come on, who wouldn’t love a panettone?
They do a number of holiday goods, but they are perhaps most famous for their fruitcake (go ahead and make all the jokes you want). Their version is a brandy-soaked spice cake with dried almonds, pineapple, papaya, and other dried fruits. If you have German leanings, you can pick up marzipan stollen (starting December 17th), plus there are plenty of cookie tins and bags too; check out their holiday menu. (You can pre-order at the 9th Avenue location at 415-566-3117.)
For a modern spin on a bûche de noël (Yule log), these don’t come with any edible mushrooms or moss, but they do come in amazing flavors like chocolate, salted caramel and coffee; vanilla raspberry; chocolate and hazelnut; and roasted pear and cream cheese. All that gorgeousness doesn’t come cheap ($75) but each one serves six to eight people. (Be sure to call and order ahead: 415-440-1700.)
Dennis and Eloise Leung always have some sweet holiday treats at their Bay Street shop, like their peppermint-fudge brownie, ginger spice cookies, and don’t miss their egg nog ice cream (there’s also the triple threat: pumpkin, pumpkin ale, and pumpkin tea brittle). Feeling like you want something lighter? They even make an apple cider frozen yogurt!
Like a good Italian, Gary Rulli is definitely a fan of the holidays, making everything from some of the city’s best panettone (you have to try the panettone paradiso, his unique spin made with chocolate, candied orange peels, walnuts, and raisins, topped with a walnut-almond paste) to his version of a bûche de noël (a Tronco Di Natale)—bring on the caramel Bavarian cream and brandy-soaked chocolate sponge cake! You can also ship any of his five kinds of panettone (that’s what I call good mail). If you weren’t ready to say goodbye to pumpkin just yet, try the Dolce Autunno, with a pumpkin Bavarian cream and panna cotta interior and a chewy amaretto base.
Another panettone obsessive is Brian Wood, whose delicious kouign-amann you can find at cafés around town. As for his lovingly made panettone, you can find them at Bi-Rite (as well as Highwire Coffee in Oakland) or you can pre-order from the bakery (firstname.lastname@example.org). The toaster oven is your friend: warm up a slice with your coffee each morning (some folks also love to make French toast with panettone, but don’t tell the baker that’s what you did with it). You can also order stollen!
The fine folks at Thorough Bread are making traditional Linzer cookies (with hazelnut and raspberry), plus you can release your inner kid with their gingerbread men and star-shaped sugar cookies. They are also making a tiramisu bûche de noël ($32, serves 6–10). Oh yes, and don’t pass up the French nougat made with pistachio and almond.